Posted on 28th Feb 2016
Photo: Approaching the first pass on day one
At 8:15am we were on the roadside on the edge of the tiny village of Villa Cerro Castillo trying to hitchhike to the start of the trekking trail. So early on a Sunday morning didn't seem the best time to be hitching, even the local bus didn't run on Sunday and being so far from the nearest town it's little wonder that only three vehicles passed by in the hour and half we were waiting and unfortunately none stopped to offer us a lift! Another couple who also were also heading out to the start of the trek search of private transport and after chatting to us and finding we had been waiting for so long. In the end we ended up sharing a lift with them, with the owner of a local restaurant who was eager to earns a few extra pesos on a Sunday morning.
After finally arriving at the start of the trail we applied sun cream as the skies were clear and it looked as though we were going to be very lucky with the weather. The trail first descended slightly as we followed it down the valley before rising gently and entering the forest. The next few hours were in and out of the beautiful forest, crossing small streams before arriving at the park rangers hut where we paid our park entry fee and signed a disclaimer relieving the park authorities of all responsibility if anything untoward were to happen to us! Continuing on, the trail opened out onto a wide valley floor and offered spectacular views over the surrounding peaks and glaciers, passing a small camping area that would normally be the camp for day one we pushed as we had decided to do what is normally considered a 4 day trek in two long days.
As the trail steepened and exited the tree line the route became rockier as we climbed over large boulders and ascended a loose scree like slope towards a mountain pass at about 1450m. There were numerous false summits, a few snow patches still lingering from the previous winter but once arriving at the pass we were welcomed with stunning views across to the towers of Cerro Castillo and glacial lake below. A few more hours, first descending the glacial moraine to the tree line then slowly ascending up through the forest to our camp site with stunning views over the towering peaks above.